Every cooking method has its advantages and disadvantages and though the benefits of smoking foods far outweighs the disadvantages, it would be a lie to say that there are none on the latter count. Indeed, if you are not careful, smoking certain types of foods, especially meats, in a certain manner can cause serious health risks. Unlike other types of cooking, however, the disadvantages of smoking foods can be mitigated if certain precautions are taken before and during the process. To help you make smoking foods a healthier process, we have listed the major disadvantages and how to eliminate them from your smoking process.
One of the major mistakes made by amateur smoking enthusiasts is to thaw the foodstuffs inside the electric smoker. Given that thawing is best done by direct and not indirect heat, the indirect heating offered by the smoker is not very successful in taking the foodstuff temperature to the safezone above 150 degrees Celsius in a short span of time.
Instead, a lot of time is spent in the 40 to 100 degree Celsius temperature zone, which is ideal for the growth of dangerous bacteria such as E. coli. Though the food eventually would be taken to the high temperature and a majority of the bacterial bloom killed off, some mature bacteria manage to survive, while the toxins produced by other bacteria (which were later killed off) remain in the food. This can cause stomach infections and stomach disorders among the consumers of such incorrectly cooked food.
The solution, quite naturally, is to circle the “thaw foods before putting in smoker” point in red in your how to use an electric smoker guide.
Cancer causing agents
Certain foodstuffs by their very nature contain carcinogens which are activated by the impact of direct or indirect heat. Low quality electric smokers produce an uneven heating which causes some parts to remain uncooked and others to get charred. It is well known that the charred parts contain polycyclic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, both of which have been deemed as carcinogenic by the National Cancer Institute of the USA.
In particular, these carcinogens can lead to the development of pancreatic, colorectal and/or prostrate cancer, along with of course stomach cancer. The solution of course is to use only the best electric smokers in the market, which ensure that no part of the food is over cooked or under cooked. Furthermore, it is important to know just how long one needs to smoke a certain food. Assuming the same smoking time for say vegetables and beef would be a grave mistake. Instead, one should go in for regular checks to see how the food is being cooked, and if signs of charring are seen, the smoking should be stopped forthwith and the charred parts removed immediately from the remainder of the food.
Stroke and Diabetes Risk
Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health believe that smoking processed foods like hot dogs and sausages in high quantities can raise the risks of stroke and Type 2 diabetes significantly. This is because in many cases the processes involved in producing processed foods are similar to smoking itself, and when the processed foods are subjected to smoking, the foods undergo a second round of such processes. This leads to the production of certain harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, in the foodstuffs. Though not as harmful as burnt or charred parts of food, such highly smoked processed foods can pose a significant health risk in the long term.
The solution is of course to consume more of natural vegetables and meats, which are also healthier for the body because they contain less cholesterol and more of natural proteins and amino acids which are removed during the processing. Indeed, it has been found that if taken in moderation, unprocessed smoked meats had little to no impact on the chances of a person suffering from either of the two diseases.
High Sodium Consumption
As both electric smoker reviews and smoking recipes suggest, smoking involves addition of a high amount of sodium through use of brine, rubs and other salt-containing solutions before, during and after the smoking process. Now sodium chloride or natural salt, which is the most common product in all of these solutions, is extremely resistant to heat and is therefore passed without change into our bodies.
Within the body, sodium ions from sodium chloride act as both an electrolyte as well as a mineral to be used by certain physical processes. However, taken to extremes, this excess sodium in the body can produce over hydration and oedema of the body tissue, increase blood pressure and raise the risks of cardiovascular disease. Finally, it also impacts the ability of special diets aimed at the heart or kidney.
The answer to these risks is to use less sodium chloride. This would naturally reduce the longevity of the foodstuff post the smoking process. However, if preservation is not a top priority for you, it is advisable not to add too much of brine or rubbing sauces to the food. If at all this interferes with the taste, rubs which do not contain a high proportion of sodium chloride should be used, such that they do not inflate the salt quantity in the diet.
Though the above list may appear slightly intimidating at first sight, it is not really a testament to the inferiority of the smoking process to others used in the world of cooking today. Rather each cooking process has its own shortcomings, and in most cases these are hard to eradicate. In case of smoking though, the shortcomings arise from improper procedure and not any inherent fault of the process itself. Hence, with a little sacrifice of taste and time, one can achieve significantly safer smoked foods. Of course, the above sentence assumes that one is using a good electric smoker and that it is working correctly. If it is, following these precautions will go a long way in ensuring the insulation of you and your family from a range of diseases and ailments arising out of improperly cooked food.